When Dan Edmondson saw the freight train pull slowly down the tracks on Nicollet Island, he ran for it. Grabbing a ladder, he hopped up on the coupler between two railcars.
All of a sudden the train jolted. He lost his footing and fell, but the train continued to drag him along. At first, Edmondson thought it had snagged his jacket. In reality, the train was grinding down on his legs until they finally gave out and he fell back into the snow.
That was in February 2014. Edmondson spent 10 days in the hospital and three months after that healing in a wheelchair. He’d been an athlete his entire life before the accident, making his living as a lifeguard at the YWCA. But even after he was fitted with prosthetic legs, getting used to them proved to be a slow, painful process.
In order to pay the bills, he returned to work at the YWCA, this time with a desk job. Gradually, he started practicing swimming again. When it came time to recertify as a life guard, he passed.
“At first, one of the things I really wanted to do was stand up,” Edmondson says. “For me, the earliest part of recovery was out of necessity. I had to do something.”
Returning to the land of the living forced Edmondson to look his situation head on. He needed to thank someone for the blood transfusions he received in the hospital, and spoke at Memorial Blood Centers. He told his story at the Twin Cities and Western Railroad’s annual safety meeting in 2014.
This summer, Edmondson’s regaining another part of his life he thought he’d never have again – skateboarding. Under the tutelage of Joel Goltry, amputee skateboarder and snowboarder, Edmondson’s been testing the ramps at Third Lair indoor park and learning what it’s like to “have a board underneath your feet without having any feet.”
“Through a local group of amputees, we planned a weekend of events. Rock climbing, snowboarding, skateboarding,” Goltry says. “Dan signed up, came to everything and just smashed down barriers and had a whole bunch of firsts. There is life after amputation.”
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